By Caitlin Graveson '11
Saint Mary's College Class of 1974.
For most students, college lasts just four years, but the ties to an alma mater remain strong. In July, some 500 Saint Mary's alumni demonstrated their ties by returning to Moraga for Reunion Weekend, all echoing the same sentiments: "Once a Gael, Always a Gael."
"Reunions are an integral part of the college community because you go for four years, but are a member of Saint Mary's for life," said Chris Carter, interim director of alumni relations.
The long weekend celebration began Friday with class golf tournaments and a reunion dinner at Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek. Saturday's events included a breakfast with Brother President Ronald Gallagher, shoot-around basketball with the men's team, a barbecue and the highlight of the weekend: the dinner dance.
Alumni could also go back to class — for the first time at a reunion. Saturday included an academic portion in which alumni could drop by Seminar classes and faculty lectures.
A brunch on Sunday morning wrapped up the weekend.
While Brother Ronald welcomed alumni back at Saturday's breakfast, he also greeted his fellow graduates of the Class of '69. He offered an interesting perspective on the importance of the reunion and how the College has changed since he was a student.
"Reunions offer alumni the opportunity to see how we are developing," he said. "We are modernizing the campus, but keeping the same look unique to Saint Mary's. We added more majors, but have the same foundation for the curriculum" including January Term, which began in 1969.
Lou Meyer '59 enjoyed the weekend's events for many reasons, but particularly the atmosphere.
"It's about getting together with old classmates and telling old tales, giving each other a hard time," said Meyer, a student at the time of the original phone booth stuffing. "It's a combination of memories and finding out what people are doing now."
Meyer, an affiliated member of the Christian Brothers, made the Brothers an active part of his life as a teacher and administrator at a Christian Brothers high school in San Francisco.
At the barbecue on Saturday, alumni and their families braved the heat and reminisced on the Chapel Lawn. John Matsuo, '84, remembered the glories of the football days.
"One of my favorite memories of Saint Mary's was the time we went to Santa Clara for a football game," he recalled. "A friend who worked at KSMC got himself into the press box … and played a recording of the Saint Mary's bells. Gael Force also got a plane to fly over the stadium the whole game with a flag that said ‘God
is a Gael', and we charged it to Santa Clara."
For recent graduates, the reunion brought back fresh memories. Natalie Wilson '04 remembered her days as a resident advisor for Ageno B and Ageno A.
She also expressed an interest in hearing tales from fellow alumni.
"I look forward to talking to the ‘old-timer' classes and hearing first-hand the rumors, legends and urban myths students talked about when I was a student."